Open the photo gallery >>

What the Actual?

When we were planning the holiday, all of, ooh, a few days ago, Minimus made a request that we had a few days that didn’t involve massive amounts of walking. Fair enough. So we had to find a few other things. One of the suggestions was from a blog about quick walks to do in the Lake District. That suggestion was to go to Buttermere and walk up to find the infinity pools. I think the blog concerned is

To be honest, I’d only ever heard the phrase before in the context of a swimming pool. You know, the ones where at least one edge of the pool is absolutely level with the water. What was new to me is that the term is also used in the context of pools in a stream. And at the head end of Buttermere is one such place.

Before All That

So before all that, I had some toast for breakfast and Kas wandered over to our favourite sandwich shop in Ambleside to get some stuff for lunch. The plan was to have a lazy drive and walk up to the place, then have a freezing cold swim before eating lunch and coming home. All very laid back and non-strenuous, you’d think.

The drive over involved us going to Keswick and then down Borrowdale and over the Honister Pass. We could have gone the long way round, but in summer this is probably the best route, despite the big hill. Anyway, we parked at Gatesgarth Farm, in a public car park which was great apart from having to pay by cash. Thankfully, I had my pot of coins in the car with me.

Legging It

The infinity pools were about 2km away from where we parked, in the valley at the head of Buttermere. The pools themselves are in the Warnscale Beck, and accessing them required a walk along a (mainly) flat and well-maintained footpath. We were not alone, though. Two women walked past us as we were on the way, and we could see another group of people already there as we walked.

It would be fair to say the weather was marginal too. It had been raining for much of the way over. Well, it always rains in Borrowdale, so that’s no surprise, but it was raining when we parked up too, and it continued to drizzle a bit while we were walking. Thankfully it was quite warm still.

Anyway, we followed the exact walking instructions whilst also just heading for where everyone else was.

In We Go

At the pools we found a set of rocks we could easily use to form a base camp. Kas had gone up in her swimming cozzy, and I had my swimming kecks on under my trousers, so we were both prepared. I’d also anticipated I’d be better off if I took my “floppy feet” that I’d bought a year earlier at the water park in Crete. I knew they’d come in handy one day.

Neither of the kids had either dressed in, or taken with them, any swimming clothes, so they had obviously both settled beforehand for just having a plodge in the water.

Kas went straight for a swim in the main pool. I was a little more circumspect and started by going upstream a bit and plodging in the stream up to my knees. The water was really quite cold. I was glad I had the floppy feet with me, because the underfoot conditions were rather unforgiving in the top pool. After a while, and once a few of the others had left it, I decided to gird my loins and go for a dip in the main pool.

The pool itself was maybe 4m across and 6m long. Not very big at all, but it lived up to the description. there was essentially a flat lip with a barely discernable lip where, I suppose, the water flows when water levels are low. There was a bit flowing out all the way across on the day we went, but then it had been raining quite a lot. I have to say that whilst the water was take-your-breath-away cold, it wasn’t an entirely unpleasant experience. I was able to bum-shuffle over a smooth rock and then gradually ease myself into the pool. There’s a nice rock slope that allows you to climb in gently rather than just diving in all at once. So in I went, admiring the view down the valley as I went.

I won’t say it was a life-changing experience, but it was certainly worth the trip and definitely not something I’ve ever done before. I didn’t last very long though. Becuase the pool isn’t big enough to move around in very much, you get cold really quickly. So out I climbed and grabbed my towel to get dry and warm. Kas wasn’t far behind me.

As we were getting out, a group of older ladies from (I believe) Hartlepool arrived to have a go at it. So while they were getting ready to go in, we were getting ready to go back. We left them alone at the pool.

What Now?

First of all we walked back to the car, and it was very conveniently where we’d left it.

On the way over I wasn’t over keen with driving over Honister Pass. Descending the Buttermere side seemed a lot steeper than climbing from Borrowdale, especially at the top. But I manned up a bit and went for it. A part of that is that there’s a National Trust cafe at the car park in Rosthwaite and we were about ready for some warming refreshments.

The refreshments ended up being hot chocolates and coffees and some cakes. What else are National Trust cafes for? That experience was made better by being able to par in the NT car park for nothing.


That was about our lot for the day though. It was supposed, after all, to be an easy day. So from Rosthwaite we made the 45 minute drive back to Ambleside and got back home quite early in the afternoon.

We’d booked dinner at Ishaa’s Indian Eatery and we had ample time to get ready for it. It turned out to be very good. I was also quite impressed with both kids exploring the menu a bit. Both orderied things they normally wouldn’t order at home. Maybe they are growing up a bit.

Back at home, I had a beer and read for a while. It had been another good day, doing an activity I wouldn’t have chosen. I really enjoyed it though. It turned out to be one of the best things on the holiday.